Saline solutions: an effective treatment

August 12, 2016 by Émilie Bédard
Solutions salines
Saline solutions for nasal irrigation are a safe and generally effective treatment or adjuvant for upper respiratory infection symptom relief.

The mucus your body produces is normally swallowed with the saliva or expelled when you blow your nose. But when the nasal passages are congested, mucus hardly flows at all. Saline solutions can be used to irrigate the nasal pathways, draining mucus and inflammatory factors (e.g., allergens). This improves nasal mucosa and nasal ciliary function while relieving and preventing symptoms of nasal congestion and rhinitis.

Saline solutions can also help prevent upper respiratory infections and decrease the need for drugs and sick time away from work or school.

Different types of solutions are available (drops, spray, or nasal irrigation) in different concentrations (isotonic and hypertonic). Hypertonic solutions have a higher sodium chloride (NaCl) concentration and more decongestant power than isotonic solutions. They are also more irritating to the nasal mucosa and may contain preservatives, which can cause further irritation, especially in children.

You can prepare a homemade solution. Here is an example of a recipe:

  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) of boiling water that has been cooled, or sterile bottled water

Homemade solution should be kept no more than 24 hours to avoid the risk of contamination. Carefully clean bulbs, bottles, and droppers after each use.

Consult a health professional for further details!

BEAUCHAMP, P., “L’eau salée au service du nez.” Québec Pharmacie, Vol. 59, No. 3, June 2012.
“Solution saline pour le nez.” Vigilance Santé.